Hyde Park Mass Gathering: The West doesn’t know what it’s like not to have freedom

There is no room for self-entitlement during a global pandemic.

On Saturday 16th May 2020, masses of people took to Hyde Park to protest the nationwide lockdown. The general message of the protesters was that they say no to the ‘Coronavirus Bill’, no to the “new normal” and that the virus is fake, caused by conspiracies like 5G, for example.

As with any protest, the pictures begin to do their rounds. The one that seemed to get the most publicity was of Piers Corbyn, ex labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s brother, holding a sign that read, ‘I am a free man, I am not a number’. The sign was very confusing, to say the least, not only because of how badly it was written but because the UK as a nation, the “first world” for that matter, has no idea what it means not to be free.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Guy Bell/Shutterstock (10648722d) A so called ‘Mass’ Gathering takes place in Hyde Park as a small group of protestors say no to the “coronavirus bill” and no to the “unlawful lockdown”, as they fear for their freedom during the coronavirus pandemic. The protest was outnumbered by police and journalists and attracted people against vaccination, 5G, Bill Gates, paedophiles, tracking and many other things. The ‘lockdown’ continues for the Coronavirus (Covid 19) outbreak in London. Mass Gathering against the Coronavirus Lockdown, Hyde Park, London, UK – 16 May 2020

Of course, induvial groups within the West like BAME people, POC, disabled people, LGBTQ+ or people of low socioeconomic means, know what it’s like to feel oppressed. Still, as a nation, unlike those such as Syria, Sudan, Libya, we have absolutely no idea, and it’s self-entitled and ignorant to think that this situation means otherwise.

The restrictions the UK has imposed have been understandable and quite tame compared to other places that have been hit by Covid-19. In Wuhan, when this all started, the streets were deserted, people had groceries delivered to their gates, sometimes on long poles or sticks because the stores were closed. Couriers were tested before, and after they would enter a compound, they disinfected all their packages, and they were some people’s only lifeline. Yet I don’t remember them protesting, lest because they weren’t allowed to sunbathe or go to a football match.

All the things that we miss, and that people are complaining about are things that we would typically take for granted. It’s sick to think that people are hiding behind tired conspiracy theories and encouraging police brutality, simply because they’ve been asked to sacrifice something that on the grand scheme things is very small.

The only thing that was sensical from our Prime Minister’s last address is that the curve is going down and we want to keep it that way. What occurred on Saturday is beyond any logic that would justify the amount of danger all those protesters put themselves in, and in turn, other people. If they weren’t above protesting, it’s safe to assume they didn’t stick to any lockdown rules, so who knows how many people they have come into contact with. It’s like they’re trying to incite the second wave that everyone fears.

The number of deaths has doubled because our government didn’t not factor in deaths in care homes soon enough. Is that not enough for people to want to stay home, to be able to contribute to something that is so out of our control? To want to stop anyone else from having to lose a friend or family member as so many have already?

The only thing that has been consistently clear throughout this pandemic is how the virus spreads. There is no cure, the NHS on the frontline are low on PPE supplies, and the one thing that we know that helps limit the spread is the one thing people can’t bring themselves to do because it upsets their “civil liberties.”

On social media, the UK was the first to laugh at the Americans protesting because the notion of it was viewed as ludicrous. Now it looks like we’re following by their example that shows no respect for human life.

President Trump, and Prime Minister, Boris Johnson are two peas from the same very dysfunctional, and very untrustworthy pod. We as a people cannot trust either of them to run a marathon, let alone a country, so it is up to us, up to every individual who values any remnants of humanity to stop the spread of this virus anyway that we can.

Parents are protesting, at home and online, about their children having to go back to school come June 1st because, even though they’re probably sick of homeschooling, they know it’s not safe yet. It’s common sense: the curve has only gone down slightly, and to come together now to try and resume our old lives would be misguided and dangerous.

The word freedom has been thrown around one too many times since this lockdown began. People in the West, short of those convicted of a crime, have no idea what imprisonment feels like. No idea what being stripped of their civil liberties or freedom is like to live with daily. Still, I’m willing to bet it’s a little more severe than having to work from home and having to stand two metres apart from a stranger in a supermarket for your protection.

The West needs to shed this self-entitlement that they think makes them exempt from following any kind of order and gain some much-needed perspective. To have to reiterate this during a global pandemic when such things should be self-evident, leaves me with little hope that the Hyde Park Mass Gathering will be the last.

To everyone who wasn’t there and who wouldn’t think of doing such a thing continue to stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.

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